Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Who within the Minister of Public Safety's office, Public Safety Canada, or the RCMP gave and who received any instructions and orders to destroy the documents in question between May 2, 2012, the day the former Public Safety minister gave his assurance records would be retained, and October 25, 2012, the date the destruction of government documents commenced? It's clear, Mr. Chair, that this is a violation within the law.
The second question is, was the Office of the Commissioner of the RCMP aware of the commitment made by the previous minister of Public Safety in a letter to the Information Commissioner that “the RCMP will abide by the right of access described in section 4 of the Act and its obligations in that regard”? If so, if they were aware, why were the documents destroyed?
The other question would be—really, I think you could call it a “firewall”—was the firewall between political involvement and RCMP day-to-day operations broken?
The Information Commissioner stated the following, which I want to be placed on the record of this committee, in a letter submitted by the Information Commissioner to the Speakers of both chambers of Parliament on May 13, 2015. In a quote from that letter, her concerns were put directly:
On April 13, 2012, I wrote to the then Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, the Honourable Vic Toews, to inform him that any records for which a request had been received under the Act were subject to the right of access and could not be destroyed until a response had been provided under the Act and any related investigation and court proceedings were concluded. Minister Toews responded on May 2, 2012 providing assurances that the RCMP would abide by the right of access described in section 4 of the Act. ...I also concluded that the RCMP destroyed records responsive to the request with the knowledge that these records were subject to the right of access guaranteed by subsection 4(1) of the Act. As a result, as well on March 26, 2015, I referred the matter to the Attorney General of Canada for possible obstruction of the right of access under section 67.1 of the Act. I have not received a response to this letter of referral. In order to preserve the rights of the complainant, pursuant to section 42 of the Act, I will also file a court application before the Federal Court.
She goes on to conclude by saying:
The proposed changes in Bill C-59 will deny the right of access of the complainant, it will deny the complainant's recourse in court and it will render null and void any potential liability against the Crown. Bill C-59 sets a perilous precedent against Canadians' quasi-constitutional right to know.
In the report itself, the Information Commissioner states the following, concluding with a specific course of action her office has taken:
The information and evidence obtained during the Information Commissioner's investigation has led her to conclude that the RCMP destroyed records responsive to the request with the knowledge that these records were subject to the right of access guaranteed by subsection 4(1) of the Act. In particular...that factual information relates to the elements of the offence set out in paragraph 67.1(1)(a)....
I'll not take the time to go through that, but to save time, Mr. Chair, I think that, simply put, the RCMP destroyed these records with the knowledge that they related to the outstanding access request as well as an ongoing investigation. The RCMP destroyed these records despite the Information Commissioner's letter dated April 13, 2012, to the Minister of Public Safety, copying the Commissioner of the RCMP, which clearly stated that these records are subject to the right of access guaranteed by the Access to Information Act and may not be destroyed until a response has been provided to the complainant and any related investigation and court proceedings are completed.
Based on the information that the Office of the Information Commissioner has gathered in the context of this investigation, the Information Commissioner is of the opinion that there is a possibility that an offence in contravention of section 67 of the act has been committed. As I said earlier, she has referred that matter to the Honourable Peter MacKay, Attorney General of Canada.
Mr. Chair, the government or law enforcement can't pick and choose the laws they want to enforce. The law is the law is the law, as people on this committee would know.
I will close, Mr. Chair, by adding the following from Ms. Legault's testimony before the access to information, privacy and ethics committee on May 25. In response to a question as to whether the retroactive application being used in the budget implementation act could be applied to make the $90,000 alleged bribe to Mike Duffy retroactively legal, the Information Commissioner stated the following:
I think that this retroactive application and the retroactive stripping of the application of the Access To Information Act is a perilous precedent. I think it could be used in any other file, of course.
There are two issues here, and we can't deal with one at this committee. One is the budget implementation act, in that it makes legal what was illegal at the time and takes that whole issue away by the retroactive amending of a law. As we are the public safety committee, I think it's important to us that the Information Commissioner, an officer of parliament, has alleged that the RCMP, our national police force, has violated the law.
Could there be political influence? I think possibly so. However, I would hope not, because there is supposed to be a firewall between day-to-day operations within the public safety minister's office and the RCMP.
However, Mr. Chair, the only way we can find that out is to invite the Information Commissioner of Canada, Suzanne Legault; Bob Paulson, the Commissioner of the RCMP; and Mr. Blaney, the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness to come before this committee and explain what happened. They're the ones who would be in the know. They're the ones between whom the conversations took place, if they did take place.
In any event, we do know that the information was destroyed. It's alleged to be a violation of the law, and I think we have a responsibility as the public safety committee to hear from those three folks and find out the facts.
I therefore move the motion.
Thank you very much.